You’d think that the Oregon law requiring gas stations to hire people to pump gas would also ensure someone washes your windshield while the attendant is standing around, but that rarely happens.

Until the 80s, it was common for gas stations throughout the country to wash your windshield as a courtesy that retained customers in a competitive marketplace. Beyond that, station attendants would also check your oil for you and air up your tires. Many stations used to run promotions that gave cheap toys to kids who would then bother their parents to return. A famous cabal was the Noah’s Ark scheme Shell Stations offered. With each fill up, a child would receive another pair of plastic animals. When they collected the entire set after 50 visits, they would receive an ark to hold all the toys. Most other stations gave away green stamps that could be used to purchase gifts. For some reason, all such promotions and extra services ended by the 90s. Now you can hardly find stations that offer air for your tires, and when you do, you have to pay for the air. Pay for air, really? There was a time when it made sense to help people stay safe and return to purchase more fuel, but that thinking is long past. If one service was brought back, it seems like cleaning a windshield would make sense  because the staff is required to be there anyway. If the station managers are too narrow in their thinking to encourage this practice, for the sake of job security through public relations, it would be nice if employees would take it upon themselves to wash windshields when they aren’t too busy.

Even with the additional overhead, fuel prices average 20 cents per gallon less than stations in California. This is thanks to one thing Oregon has done right: kept the fuel tax lower in Oregon. The major downside is most fuel stations are closed during nonpeak hours, such as the middle of the night when some people prefer to embark on road trips to avoid traffic. In California, far more stations are open 24 hours because patrons can pump their own fuel with a credit card and travelers to rural areas don’t run such a high risk of being stranded when their fuel runs low.

If only one gas station would wash windshields in Klamath, it would surely receive more business. The attendant is required to be there anyway, so this barrier can be blamed completely on short-sighted station owners and staff. Further, if attendants aim to keep their jobs, they need to take it upon themselves to wash windshields as time permits. The public support for Oregon’s pumping law is slim at best, so there needs to be more value perceived in the attendant mandate than simply pumping fuel. Most Oregonians feel they could see even lower fuel prices without that extra overhead.